Saturday, March 30, 2013

So Proud of My Dad

My father has spent most of the past 4 months hospitalized and suffering chronic back pain that will be with him for the rest of his days.  He has completed the physiotherapy programme in his present location and has accomplished so much that he has been removed as a candidate for the other programme he has been waiting to get into.  He has learned how to get in and out of bed, in and out of chairs, on and off the toilet and the bench seat in the shower and can use his walker very well now.

SO, this coming week he will be on his way back home.....we will see how long he can handle being there and how long Mom can handle whatever care giving she may still have to do.  Home care is scheduled to come in twice a week and Meals on Wheels will be reinstated.  We will set up a Lifeline system for them so that mom is free to go out and not have to worry about Dad being alone.

Here is why I am proud of my dad.  He has always attempted, as much as possible, to be the master of his own destiny here on earth and this situation has not changed that. He knew when it was time to stop singing and performing professionally.  He knew when it was time to retire from his teaching career. He knew when it was time for himself and mom to leave the house they had lived in for several decades.  He knew when it was time to stop driving.  He knew without being told by any doctors when it was time to start putting assists into the bathrooms at home.  

And now he realizes it is time to seriously begin a search for a nursing home for himself.   Today he asked mom if it would be easier for her if he went straight from his current hospital to whatever nursing home could take him right away, but they agreed he does need to try living at home for awhile to see how it goes.  He was relieved she felt that way as never to return home again would be devastating emotionally.  If he can't cope and mom can't cope with him, then he will feel it is his own decision once again to move.  He and Mom have a booklet from a big seniors' centre in the city that lists every seniors' residence and nursing home in the city, associated costs, etc.  He will start making calls after he gets home and see where he has the best chance of being accepted, what kind of doctor's assistance he needs to get on the waiting lists etc.  

I am praying that the Lord would grant him and mom a little breathing room by having a few weeks or months to spend together before they become separated by their various infirmities and have to live in different places.  To make the choice on his own to move into a different facility would go a long way to Dad being confident and happy with wherever he ends up living.  

Then it will be time to tackle Mom about the idea that if Dad is gone from their home she is also going to have to consider a move to a different, less independent accommodation where she is not 100% dependent on other elderly friends for rides in order to get the simplest of groceries and to get to the bank and various doctor's offices.  In the spring and summer she is very independent and riding buses, but come winter she can't handle standing in the cold at bus stops.

Hopefully we will be allowed the grace to tackle these changes one parent at a time, but for now I am very proud of Dad for not being afraid of Planet Reality when it comes to his future.

A Happy Day

I love days like today where I know I have accomplished some of the little tasks that sit and wait sometimes for weeks or months to be taken care of.  I started early this morning by cleaning my desk top of useless papers and mess and it inspired me to continue working around the house.

By the way, the sun is shining and it is +1 today!

A large pile of clothing that has been accumulating over the past couple of weeks is now all ironed and put away.

By the way, the sun is shining and it is +1 today!

A project with my stacks of sheet music I started several weeks ago, sorting and tossing out and putting into binders, is now completed.  Loose sheets of music went under the 3 hole punch to be filed in new binders.  Previously bindered sheets that were tearing out at the holes have been repaired and strengthened.  I forced myself to throw away old sheet music that is so old and/or badly damaged the paper is crumbling, ancient books of children's songs that not only will never be used by me/my choirs again but are so irrelevant no one else will want them, songs and accompaniments with pages all ready missing.

By the way, the sun is shining and it is +1 today!

I cooked up the last of the fresh vegetable dishes I want to take to my mom next time I see her and got some other veggies ready for my sister-in-law to use for our family dinner next week.

By the way, the sun is shining and it is +1 today!

I caught up on some outstanding emails...as in REALLY REALLY REALLY outstanding....and I hope the people finally receiving answers to their queries will not drop dead from the shock of actually hearing back from me.

By the way, the sun is shining and it is +1 today!

All in all a great day!  It is nice to feel satisfied with daily accomplishments after being so far behind on so many things.

Oh, and by the way...did I mention that the sun is shining and it is +1 today????

HAPPY EASTER EVERYBODY!

Friday, March 29, 2013

I'm Sorry Jesus

Sometimes I think I am the most emotionless human being on the earth when it comes to my faith.  I occasionally experience a "jot or a tittle"(how's that for a good scriptural turn of phrase, eh?) of emotion when I think about the suffering and death of Jesus, my saviour from myself and my own worst tendencies, my comfort and my hope for the future here and in the next life, but it is so rare I can count those times of emotion on 2 fingers.

It isn't deliberate. I am not making any attempts to exhibit emotional control. I would like to be a more emotional being in the presence of God.  I actually envy Christian believers who can "let it all hang out" in church and in their own private times of prayer.  It doesn't offend me at all.  Quite the contrary.

I am thrilled to report that today I experienced one of those personal mini-revelations of what Jesus went through for the sake of the whole world and for me personally, one that stirred up a deep emotion internally and came close to displaying itself in the form of tears.  For a brief moment I was able to enjoy an emotional connection with the historical and spiritual events at the end of Jesus' earthly life.

As I touched the wooden cross in our church at the end of our Good Friday service, an intense grief came upon me and all I could do was stand there whispering, "I'm sorry Jesus, I'm so sorry."  The fact of my own future participation in what Jesus was sent to earth by his Father to experience so long ago washed over me like a waterfall.

The moment came and went very quickly, but the intensity will stay with me for awhile I think.

This post is all about me and my own emotional responses but really Holy Week, the services, today's Meditations on the Cross, Sunday's celebration of the resurrection, are all about Jesus.  They point to a God who gave up a part of himself to suffer like all human beings suffer in order for that God to identify with his own created beings, ourselves, to show us how to restore the harmony of relationship with God and in the universe by getting to know his son Jesus and following him.

For Christians it isn't about who did or didn't talk to us in church today, or whether or not we like the colour of the church carpet, or the comfort of the church hall chairs, whether we enjoy the music in the church services or don't appreciate the way our teenagers dress, or even whether or not we "get anything out of" the preacher's sermons.

It's about how to love each other the same way God loves us, it is about forgiveness and restoration, it is about personal transformation that leads to the transformation of our communities, it is about allowing God to direct us instead of following the dictates of our own opinions and feelings.


It is all about Jesus.

A Challenge from Pope Francis I

I have been challenged by not only the actions of the new Pope Francis I, but also by something he said in his Holy Thursday mass from St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

He broke with protocol yesterday when he was washing the feet of some prison inmates, including 2 women, one of whom is a Serbian Muslim.  That will be a big surprise to many traditionalists who believe that all of Jesus' disciples were men.  It is the first time I believe that a pope has washed the feet of women during that traditional rite.

Here are the words that challenged me so much:

" We need to go to the outskirts where there is suffering, bloodshed, blindness that longs for sight, and prisoners in thrall to many evil masters.

 IT IS NOT IN SOUL SEARCHING OR CONSTANT INTROSPECTION THAT WE ENCOUNTER THE LORD."

This is a very pertinent challenge for me right now and I pray I can listen in my spirit and learn how it may revolutionize my walk with Jesus over this next while.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Happy Way To Survive the Annual Seder

I admit it.  I am not a huge fan of the Christianized version of the Seder.  It isn't because I think there is anything wrong with it.  The incorporated Old Testament prophesies and our interpretation of their fulfillment in Christ is pretty cool.  Remembering what the Israelites went through as they fled Egypt is good for us.  Seder brings in a fantastic link between the Old and New Testament that is too often ignored by Christians, even in this day and age of well researched theolgy.

What I can't handle is the length of it and the fact that most years I end up at more than one Seder depending on how many points my husband has in his parish and how many ecumenical groups also invite him to do a Seder for them.  Once per year is interesting, more than two per year is more than I can handle.  I have always suffered from a short attention span and a restless back/leg thing, so a 3 to 5 hour Seder is hard for me to get through. 

However, this year my husband found the perfect way to keep my attention focused and so, if you live in the prairies, heartily dislike 3 to 5 hours of grape juice and have access to wines from Fine Wines SK, here are my recommendations for imbibing with the bitter herbs and the meal in the middle:
2011 Melipal Malbec Rose
2007 Torreon de Paredes Cabernet Savignon
And for those of you who prefer white wine I suggest 2010 Terras de Paul.

Just my preferences but maybe if you enjoy wine with your Seder you will like them as well

Water EVERYWHERE!

Oh my goodness!  The huge ice floe on top of the church and breezeway rooves are finally starting to melt and what a MESS with a capital M in our connecting breezeway between the church and the house.  A giant gaping hole in the breezeway roof was covered over with good roofing materials a couple of years ago, and voila, no more magic waterfall to dodge along our path between the 2 buildings.  

Until a couple of days ago.......the eavestroughing was not finished on part of the building, there is solid ice filling parts of the rest of the eavestroughing and it is so thick up on the breezeway roof that my husband was unable to budge any of it with a pointed heavy metal shovel in 2 attempts. As it melts slowly off, the breezeway is flooding.  The 40 gallon oil drum my husband set up yesterday to catch the worst of the dripping is now full to capacity and starting to run over the edge and onto the floor.  Getting through the door to the church office requires a sheet of plastic to be tossed over one's head and shoulders to avoid being rained upon by the dirty, moldy water coming in from outside.  We are not sure if the church basement is going to hold up against flooding or not.  Most of the worst of the snow bank beside the basement wall is melted away all ready so that is good.  

I am waiting now to see if the leak that began last spring in our house front entry is going to start up again.  I can't see the same large snow and ice patch up there that we had last year at this time.  

So far the trenching we did behind the garage door is holding up well and there has been minimal water finding its way inside. What bit there is has come mostly from ice chunks melting off the car tires.

I am trying, with great difficulty, not to think of the amount of mold that will be creeping in everywhere the buildings have sprung leaks.  Just because the snow will be completely  melted in another week or 2 does not preserve us from the spring rains, which around here can be torrential.  Reshingling the rectory roof is financially prohibitive at the moment so it will be a huge prayer request of mine that the water not enter the house any more than it all ready has over the past 3 years.

How to prevent and/or deal with flooding is big news all over our province this spring.  Maps showing the areas likely to be worst hit have been published on the internet, in the newspapers and have been discussed almost every morning this week on radio news broadcasts.   Some of the towns and cities to the south of us are all ready filling sand bags in preparation for what they are fairly certain is going to come. It never occurred to me that one day I would be thrilled beyond belief to live in an area the weather and topography maps are labelling as Above Normal Spring Runoff as opposed to living in an area mapped as WELL Above Normal Spring Runoff!

I have never lived anywhere before where any kind of flooding has been even a small possibility....at least not while I lived there.  For me this is all new and I find it a bit frightening.  Just today downtown one of the storm sewers was blocked by icy chunks that had floated there from up the street and there was an inch of water creeping up to the doors of the businesses for about half a block.  What struck me is how quickly it happened.  It wasn't like that yesterday.....in fact yesterday there was no sign whatsoever that half a block of downtown would become difficult to access on foot because of water.  Fortunately one of the town trucks arrived and cleared the chunks of ice away, but because the air wasn't warm enough to dry the pavement, tonight and tomorrow morning that same half block will be a skating rink. 

The next 2 weeks are going to prove interesting as the temperatures begin to rise above zero on a daily basis and the huge mounds of snow begin melting at a faster rate of speed.  Yikes! 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

My Poor Parents

My mom got the word today that instead of keeping my pain tortured father in hospital #1 until he can get into a special back centre at hospital #2, he may be sent home to wait.....by this weekend....just before we all arrive to stay at Grandma's house and help her get out for some fun and relaxation she desperately needs.  Sigh.........why am I not surprised at this turn of events?

Poor Dad.......he is so upset as well and with good reason. Once he leaves the hospital I can't advocate for him with the specialist there as he will no longer be under her care.  About all I can do is ensure they can have a medical call system installed in their house so that he can be left alone for a couple of hours here and there when mom absolutely has to go out for groceries and banking.  If he has to come home now neither of them will have a life and my 85 year old mother will be stuck being a full time nurse again for my 86 year old dad while they await his entry into the back programme.  He is on so much morphine and yet it still isn't enough to control the pain sufficiently for him to be mobile...what happens at home for him in this situation?  Both my parents would be trapped most of the time in the apt.  Because of his limbo situation it is too soon to know if he is going to have to move to a nursing home after he completes the programme and we should get his name on lists. 

There may be a doctor's strike in their province so it is likely the hospitals are sending home as many patients as possible just in case.  I do understand that.  It is just going to be so terribly difficult for so many patients like dad who cannot cope at home and who cannot get home care 7 days a week.

I can only pray that Dad doesn't have to come home until he can get into the programme.  I am praying that there will be a sudden opening there for him so he can transition from his current hospital.  I am praying for my mom to be out of this limbo situation where she doesn't know from one day to the next if her own plans have to be cancelled at the last minute.

Growing old can be such a trial so I pray my parents can continue to rely on their faith in God and draw strength from it while we all try to find out the best way to help them.

Sad News of the Kind We Should be Used to by Now

Today my husband and I are feeling sad due to the passing of someone he ministered to a number of times over the past few years.  The man in question is related to one of our parishioners and while he doesn't attend our church, he did have some serious talks and times of prayer with my husband since we moved here.

Just a few days ago he was admitted to hospital because he was feeling very ill.  When the doctors and lab techs administered tests they could find nothing specific wrong and it seemed he just had a bad case of 'flu' and perhaps some bronchitis.  My husband went to visit him and when the man was not admitted to hospital we drove him some miles back to his home, made sure he had food and drink, prayed for him and helped him to lie down to rest. This morning he was found in his apt., having passed away at some point in the past day or two.

These are the sorts of events pastors and their spouses are supposed to get used to I suppose, but really, I don't think we ever do get used to such things. The passing of anyone is always a sad time.  While it seems more "acceptable" to lose someone who is elderly than someone middle aged like the man we lost this morning, it just isn't ever easy.  We remember the times of sharing and prayer together, the fun and the sorrows shared. My husband sees first hand how deaths effect the remaining family members from the intimate position of pastor to the grieving.  

I hope my husband and I never do get used to the whole idea of death and grieving.  It would be very easy, I would imagine, to become jaded when you are exposed to these things as often as pastors are, to allow trite platitudes to roll off your tongue when trying to placate a grieving family.  May it never come to that for us....knowing my husband it won't happen that way.  He is always shocked by death, always feeling deep sorrow for the families left behind.  He is very aware of his position of trust as a pastoral counsellor at such times and takes it seriously to heart.

May we never become used to death and grief, but may we also always recognize it for what it is:  the ultimate end of the earthly body on its way to an eternal home.  May we allow hope to mingle with sorrow to see us through the time of grieving and may pastors be able to pass that hope on to those who rely on their spiritual wisdom at such times.     

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

And Holy Week Continues.......

One Seder and potluck dinner down and one to go!  

Tonight's group was small with so many parishioners all ready gone for the Easter break, but it was still a lively ecumenical event with the participation of Lutherans, Roman Catholics and Charismatic Evangelicals.  It was a wonderful learning experience once again as some of the participants had spent time in Israel and our Curate has spent a lot of time studying the Hebrew culture and being taught well in the ways of Seder by Jewish friends.  Having a smaller group made for a more personalized and intimate evening.  

My husband knocked himself out today all day.  He did all the cooking of the stew and roast potatoes while all I could contribute were my veggie chopping skills.  He made all the charoseth himself.  He purchased and prepared the bitter herbs and bought proper wine along with the grape juice.  He set up the tables and the place settings and even insisted on helping me do some of the dishes afterward.  He wore himself right out and has to do it all over again in a couple of days in the other town.  I was so grateful for the contributions to the potluck dinner by the others who came.

In the midst of it all we received word that a good friend had a post-cancer treatment checkup and is A-OK!  We heard the news just as we reached the point in the Seder where there is some sharing of the good things the Lord has done.  It was so exciting.

So tomorrow will be more cooking and preparation for the following day's Maundy Thursday, Seder, foot washing and potluck in the other town. Earlier that day there is a ministerial meeting and a few pastoral visits to work in as well.

Friday there is a 90 minute Walk of the Cross in the other town, then a fast race to one of the local restaurants to meet for a marriage preparation session with a young couple my husband is marrying this summer and then a race back to our own town for the Good Friday service of Meditations on the Cross, the solemn stripping of the altar etc.  Saturday will be preparing the last minute tweaks required to do a joyous and exciting Easter Sunday service in both towns.

It has all gone well so far, this Lenten Season.  The time of focusing on the suffering of Jesus certainly prepares the way for the joy we express when we say, "He is risen!"  "He is risen indeed!!"

Feelin' happy these days and with good reason.

I'm With Papa

I am afraid that Papa and I are on the same page when it comes to ipad technology.  You don't have to speak German to understand and enjoy this one:

http://www.snotr.com/video/8965/

Monday, March 25, 2013

In the Dark...Aren't I Always???

A series of power outages disrupted our plans this evening....having our plans disrupted...now there's something new, eh?  NOT!!! haha

My husband and I kind of enjoy those spontaneous power outs on occasion.  Tonight he had just completed the making of the charoset for tomorrow's Seder and I was watching a tv show, so the loss of power was no big deal.  

In fact it was fun and it provided the first chance we had to really rest all day....on the Day Off. haha  My husband headed for his mountaineer gear and strapped on his headlamp, I located the nearest flashlight, candles etc. and then we sat and talked for a good long time.  

There is something about sitting in the dark and chatting that brings the level of conversation up a notch.  Perhaps it is the soothing lack of light that is so relaxing, perhaps the knowledge that there is nothing else to do other than talk together....to do that knowing there will be no interruptions tends to raise the level of the conversation far beyond, "How was your day?" or "NOW what??".  It is all right to get into matters requiring some depth and intimacy because there is nothing else to do, nothing that can really be done.  There will be time to finish no matter what the subject matter. There is no rush to stop talking before both people are ready because there is lots of time.  The details will be discussed, conversational bunny trails are allowed.

I was almost disappointed when the power finally came back on because our conversation wrapped up quickly so we could get on to other household tasks before it was time to go to sleep for the night.  We could have handled another half hour of darkness.

Isn't it odd how, when the power came back on, we suddenly felt obligated to cut our conversation short for the sake of cleaning up some food mess, for immediately resetting all the clocks to the right time.  We oohed and aahed for a split second over the fact that my husband had, just minutes before the power outage, installed a back up battery for the media components in the living room.  Nothing had to be reset or fixed or fiddled with this time because the new battery works very well.

We are like trained dogs, caving constantly to the perceived demands of the culture around us.  The dirty counter could have waited an extra half hour to be cleaned. The clocks didn't absolutely have to be set the second after the power came back on. We went from a state of complete relaxation to overdrive on the house chores in the split second it took for the power to reinstate all the lights and appliances to working order.

How dumb are we, the two of us, for needing a drastic change in our environment to be imposed upon us before we can feel free to simply sit and discuss?  

If it takes a power outage to give us time to talk together properly, then may there be many more at our house!

Funny Baby Tee Shirt

A young friend of mine and her husband just became first time parents and sent out the first photos of the little guy.  He is truly the epitome of Cutie Patootie and his tee shirt is pretty adorable too.  Blazoned across the black shirt the big white letters  spell out BOOB GUY!
How cute is that?????   hahahaha

Today I'm Feelin' A Lot Like Grandma Finch

Two nights in a row of insufficient sleep are rendering me brain dead today!  I can't think, can't see straight, I accidentally typed a huge mistake into the previous entry and forgot, only 2 minutes later, to scroll back to the top of the entry to change it before I posted it, so there it sat all day.  

I just want to lay down and sleep and sleep and sleep some more.  Maybe in a couple of days once the stew and charoset are prepared for our 2 Seder celebrations and potluck dinners this week, one in each town.  Tonight we will get the stew made, tomorrow morning the charoset.  

But for another couple of hours I am going to just loll around and doze and relax.  

Grandma Finch had the same idea today.  This morning she sat for a couple of hours on the peanut feeder under the eaves, her head resting against the mesh, turning for a bit of a snack every so often, her blind eye closed against the wind and her bedraggled feathers flapping about in the breeze.  This afternoon the sun came out and she hauled herself over to the watering hole to sit in the direct heat.  My husband has created a ledge of Thinsulite around the watering hole to work with the heat tape and keep the water from freezing.  Grandma Finch sat there for over an hour, kneading her toes into the Thinsulite, face pointed up into the sun, alternately dozing and snapping awake to take a quick look about for possible predators.

I enjoyed watching her enjoying the sun and the bit of shelter on the peanut feeder under the eaves.  She snuggles into the feeder and looks so cozy.  If birds can look happy then that is how she looked sitting at the watering hole and basking in the sun.  The warm sun put the run on the cold wind for awhile and she was enjoying every moment of it.

That is my idea of a good day when I am this tired......dozing in the sun, digging my toes into some sand beside some warm water.......sheltering from the wind and cold....and turning a blind eye to the rest of the world.  Old age is beckoning me and on days like this I would be happy to oblige because when a person is elderly no one calls you to account any more about napping in the afternoons......zzzzzzzzzzzzz........

AND if the phone had not rung SIX times in the 3 minutes it took me to type this entry at least the lolling around and dozing could have happened....hahahaha  'Twas ever thus.......

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A New Biblical Joseph for Palm Sunday

This being Palm Sunday, the Sunday of the Passion, the Gospel readings from the lectionary centered around Jesus being prepared to face his coming crucifixion; the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem while his followers cheered, the beginning of the end of his days on this earth.  

In both our churches this gospel was presented as a dramatic reading, requiring 5 different readers with certain parts of the story being chanted by the congregation.  This year it seemed all our readers did an even better than usual job, speaking clearly, having good expression, excellent enunciation and the like.  It was a treat to listen to.

However, friends of ours were not quite as fortunate with the dramatic reading in their church. hahaha  They had one of those cute incorrect pronunciations occur that just broke me up when they told me about it.

At one point during the reading there is a mention of the man who got permission to bury the body of Jesus in a tomb after the crucifixion: Joseph of Arimathea.  

The reader of this man's name at my friends' church stumbled somewhat over this particular name and proudly proclaimed the name to be Joseph of  Arrhythmia!!!  

For those of you who suffer from that frightening heart condition known as arrhythmia, perhaps it was named after this man named Joseph??????  Was he the first recorded case in some other document recorded around the same time as the crucifixion???

I doubled over with laughter.  There is nothing sweeter than a mispronunciation that is unwittingly hilarious.  This is one of the best I have heard about recently.  hahahaha  LOVE IT!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Spring Cancellations Due To Winter Weather

Today I am feeling badly for approximately 600 young dancers and their instructors from our area of the prairies who have spent the winter training for a huge dance competition that was to be held in our town this weekend.  The logistics of feeding and accommodating that many guests in a town as small as ours have taken months to work out. Costumes have been created, routines memorized and rehearsed to near perfection, excitement has been building toward the thrill of an out of town event of this size and importance.

This morning the announcement came that due to the terrible road conditions the entire event has been cancelled.  I feel so badly for all involved because I remember when my son was  younger and participating in various band competitions in other towns......the tremendous amount of hard work to prepare, the plans starting months in advance, setting up transportation and chaperones and on and on and on.  

One of the families in our church is highly involved with the dance competition and what a terrible disappointment for them after all the work they have put into it.  A university aged daughter was making a special trip home from her campus to assist.

An annual Community Choir spring concert for tomorrow afternoon has also been cancelled.  The singers have not been able to travel into town for rehearsals.  Roads in our area that have been reopened are still unsafe for travel outside of emergencies, some still posted as Travel Not Recommended.  Again, so much work and preparation and excitement generated only to be faced with a cancellation.

In the dead of winter this sort of thing is not only accepted, it is even expected as a possibility.  But on the first weekend of spring there should not by rights be temperatures outside of -19C with dry winter snow continuing to fall. It should be a little above zero out there and any snow should be wet, melting as soon as it touches the ground.

Neither of these cancellations directly effect me in any way, but I feel badly for all the people involved.  I well remember those days when my son was playing his trumpet and I was involved in our local community choir.  In winter there sometimes isn't a lot of fun to look forward to, so preparation for spring concerts and dance competitions is a very big deal.  These are the things that give us hope for the future during the tiring and dreary winter months. 

The Pioneer Spirit is Not Dead In Our Area of the World

My current English Language student is an interesting fellow.  He is not from this part of Canada and learned French as his first language. At present he is renting a farm house 40 minutes away for the sake of his horses and driving into our town to work and attend church services during the week. Every week he has interesting stories to share about his life and work.  Today was no exception.

The wind and snow storms have completely cut him off from being able to use his car to go anywhere out of his farm yard.  The grader has yet to appear to plough out his yard, as well as the road running in front of his place that takes him into the nearest town 5 km away.  If he wasn't in great shape athletically he would not have been able to leave his farmstead for the past several days.

When the storm blew in on Wednesday morning he was all ready here in our town where he works.  He was barely able to return after work to his own town as the roads were in such bad condition, but he did make it that far.  Unfortunately the drifts on the road to his house had all ready blown up to chest height so he couldn't drive home.  

So he drove his car to a friend's house in town, parked it and ploughed through the drifts on foot to get home and care for his horses.  He must be a good swimmer because he would have had to make swimming strokes with his arms in order to get through snow that deep.  

The next morning the road was closed but he felt he had to get to work for a work related conference that day.  So, by 5am he was leaving his house again on foot for the walk back to his car, but fortunately the drifts had a nice hard crust so he was able to walk on top of them without sinking in snow up to his chest.  He drove in on the highway as usual, despite it being closed to traffic and after work repeated his travel back to town in wicked road conditions, praying he would make it as the closed road means no rescue is coming in the form of a plough or tow truck.  Another 5km trek over the drifts ensued.  How discouraged he must have been to go through such a performance to get to an important work conference only to discover it had been cancelled at the last minute due to the weather.

This morning, same routine to come in for his weekly Friday morning church service, sneaking past a line up of 21 semi trailer units stranded on the one hill in the area.  He arrived to discover the service had been cancelled due to the priest still being stranded hours away.  

So he arrived here an half hour early for his English lesson.  After the lesson he was heading back to the other town, parking his car there and hiking over the drifts home for the 3rd day in a row this week.  He doesn't know why the grader has never appeared to dig him out at home or to at least clear the roadway in front of his place.  

He has no desire to move into either his town or ours.  He takes being completely stormed in with a great prairie attitude. He takes it all in stride....the walking through chest deep snow to get to his house and his horses....the travelling to work by car on highways that are closed due to drifts and ice, repeating the process at the end of a long and weary day.

To me his lifestyle decisions and their consequences in a province with winters like this make his life a living nightmare.  I cannot imagine being able to cope with a situation like that with any amount of good grace, but my friend seems to thrive on the challenge, to love where he lives and to roll with the punches.......er, the icy drifts.

I don't have the energy to maintain such a lifestyle and I praise God every day that He hasn't asked me to.  I admire my friend very much for living with the consequences of his decision to live alone so far away from anywhere a town grader goes regularly.  He deals with whatever comes along at any given moment.

Not me, I am more your Aunt Pitty-Pat type....dedicated to living along major transportation routes that I know are going to be ploughed out within a day of a massive storm and only venturing out when it is in my own best interests.   I admit it: the spirit of the pioneers is completely missing in my lifestyle and thoughts.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Musical Solo Concert

My husband had a vestry meeting tonight.  I suppose I could have seized my chance to use the car and go out, it being Friday night and all, but since the only place that is open Friday nights is the world's teeniest WalMart, I refrained from dragging our little car once again through the chunky blocks of ice the town grader so generously deposited at the exit from our alleyway to the street and stayed home.

My office has taken on a look of quiet desperation the past few days, with papers scattered everywhere.  I noticed that the sheet music shelf on the wall length book case was looking particularly messy and decided tonight was a great time to go through all those old photocopied bits and pieces, 3 hole punched sheet music, choir songs, old elementary school musical theatre binders etc.

What fun I had.  In order to organize all that music, of course I had first to play through some of it to decide what I was keeping and what was best disposed of.  I did manage to choose quite a few old songs to be tossed into the trash, raggedy edged photocopied disasters that they were.  But the real fun of the evening was sitting down to play (badly)  and sing (even "badlier").

2 hours flashed past in what seemed like 20 minutes.  How could 2 hours have gone by like that?  My fingers and brain patterns had some flashes of remembrance of how I used to be able to play the piano and a few of the songs went not too badly.  As far as the singing, I can caterwaul with the best of them....and I surely did that!  Finally being back in a house again and not an apartment meant I could turn up the volume as loud and long as I wanted without disturbing anyone.  YIPPEE!

Unfortunately my back did not take kindly to being unsupported on the piano bench for 2 hours so I am pumping muscle relaxants into my system with startling rapidity, but a good sleep on that wonderful new mattress of mine will make it all better by the morning.  The rest of me is very content and happy. What a super fun way to spend an evening alone.

And yes, I DID get the dinner dishes washed as well.....and dried.........and put away....(after the 2 hours on the piano, I confess)

So, What Did YOU Give Up For Lent??

Although we were a bit late getting started, WE gave up dangerous winter road trips!!!!

Yup, it's snowing again...........

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Marvellous Storm Stayed Evening at Home

Q.  Is there any more delightful way to spend a stormy evening at home together than sharing brie on rosemary bread and a bottle of Selbach Riesling Kabinett, courtesy of Fine Wines Saskatchewan?

A.  Nope!

Oooh Goody Goody!!

Tonight I stepped out in faith that the weather will be conducive to travel by Easter Sunday and arranged a family week in the Big City after the Easter Sunday Services.  I am SO excited.  Please God let it be.........

My mom will get lots of time with and help from us.  The icing on the cake for my family will be the look on my dad's face when his grandson walks into his hospital room to surprise him.  It won't matter how much pain Dad is in.......the grandson can bring a big smile.  We can see my husband's sister and brother-in-law. Either my son or husband will be able to stay with them.  My husband's step-father is also coming that week to visit. One of my husband's young cousins is graduating from university with a music degree and her grad recital is that week.  We will spend a glorious hour listening to beautiful violin solos.  She is an amazing musician.  Her grandparents and some of her aunties and uncles will be there.  It is going to be a fabulous family week!!  Both sides of the family will be able to spend time together.  

Now....weather....get your act together by then......do you hear me????  We are in desperate need of family time, our two families are.  

God, I am trusting you for a lot that week..........if I can maintain a good attitude no matter what happens between now and then, that will be my most important request.

According to Our Local Prognosticators......

....our last huge winter storm will be on March 28th.  That would mean the cancellation of our Seder supper and foot washing in the other town that evening.  Hmmm........another meeting/celebration cancelled due to the never ending array of winter's powerful displays.

This prediction has come about after careful study of pigs' bladders and onions.  

Crazy?  (Well, maybe.....)

Nutsy cuckoo?? (Perhaps....)

Gasp......downright ungodly???? (O puulleeeeze....)

The interesting thing is that these pig bladder reading, onion studying soothsayers have an accuracy rating of 85%.

Or so I've been told.

Guess we will out March 28th. 

On March 27th I will be filling the car with gasoline, bringing in a load of groceries, getting any outstanding bills paid at the bank, cleaning the mail out of the mailbox and filling the bird feeders to the brim; just in case March 28th falls into the 85% zone.

At this point I am ready to believe any and all predictions of pending storm activity.  Every time I think I have seen it all, I discover new and terrible actions on the part of the local weather.

Keeps a person on her toes......trying to see over the banks of snow!!
 

A Photo of Our Main Highway this Morning Posted on the Weather Network

The photo below, assuming this link works, shows the reason we didn't attempt to leave for Regina yesterday:


http://www.theweathernetwork.com/your_weather/details/620/10545486/2/cask0148/plpcities/786/

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Wow, Good Thing We Stayed Home Today

Had we gone to Regina today, at this point we would be about 200 km or less from home.  That highway has been closed.  We would be stranded in a very teeny town on our way to the city.......if we had been able to actually make it to the one teeny tiny town along our route.  More likely we would be high centered in the middle of that road somewhere along the route, knowing no plough is coming because of the closure.  

THIS is exactly why I should refuse to become frustrated, flustered and otherwise PO'd when our travel plans are scuttled at the last minute by inclement weather......could it be that stress I am feeling to cancel out a trip is actually a protection device to prevent me from making a stupid decision to go travelling based on my great desire to travel instead of on common sense?

Could it possibly be the Holy Spirit trying to get my attention to let me know I should not be going out for a long drive or I will be very very sorry?

I suspect so.  

I need to remain calm next time the weather threatens my hopes and plans.  I need to take a closer look at that strained feeling I get when I need to be changing my plans.  Instead of becoming upset and indecisive I need to just say to God that really, it is up to me to trust him to work out the details so I don't have to stress.

Is this a lesson that keeps coming up?  Yes it is.

Is it because I need constant reminders of what I have all ready learned about trusting God with my schedule?  Yes it is.

Is it because God never gives up hope that one day I will have truly learned about trusting him with my schedule instead of, at best, trusting him so tentatively, or, at worst, merely paying lip service to the idea of real trust in God?  Yeah,,,,,,,,,,that's it.

Little Birdie Butts

The wind is gusting between 50 and 80 km at the moment and creating some difficulties for our birds when they come to the feeders.  If our feeders weren't tied onto the cross bar with a loop and had only a hook attachment, they would be all over the ground, buried in snow drifts by now.

It is a full afternoon's entertainment watching the sparrows clinging desperately to the feeder arms as the feeders sway madly back and forth, around and around.  If they are attempting to eat when sitting on the arms facing into the stiff wind their little tail and butt feathers blow straight up over their heads.  One minute we are oohing and aahing at their tenacious grip on the feeders and the next we are confronted with a face full of bare birdie butt!  It is hysterical.

On days this cold with so much wind and blowing snow the birds don't want to buck the wind to go elsewhere for food. They don't seem to mind freezing their little bare butts off while their seed filled beaks are buried inside the holes of the feeder.

The tiniest birds, finches and redpolls, are the most fastidious and "modest". When their tail feathers blow up over the tops of their heads, they quickly change their position so that they can twist their heads around to smooth out those flying feathers and cover themselves back up.  Baby it's COOOOLD back there!!

But the sparrows don't care.  As long as their faces are buried in fresh seeds, cold butts be darned!!  Let those tail feathers blow where they will.

And the nuthatches and woodpeckers seem completely unaffected by the wind and snow.  They have been here all winter and they never stop eating....and eating.....and eating....and eating.  Standing at my kitchen window, watching them as I do the dishes, I get hungry from simply gazing at their constant feeding frenzy.

O...yeah.....speaking of dishes to be washed.....talk to ya'll later.............

The First Day of Spring 2013

We spent our morning poring over weather reports, road condition maps and highway webcams.  Our conclusion was that we were not prepared to risk our lives and the rest of this week's schedule here at home to go to Regina for the clergy day.  50 to 80km winds were creating whiteout conditions as early as 10am, freezing rain is predicted here this evening, a brief rise in temperatures has caused the blowing snow to stick onto the road surface, and the fresh snowfall is to arrive big time across most of the southern half of the province tomorrow and the day after.  Even if we had been able to leave sufficiently early this morning to outrun the storm, it appeared we could be stranded in Regina for 2 extra days, days we can't afford to be away from here.

Welcome one and all to Saskatchewan's first day of spring, 2013!! Hohoho!!

Canceling our hotel room for tonight was actually no problem at all.  The past experience of the desk clerk told her our room would be easily rented by someone else, some poor soul who finds his or her self stranded in Regina due to weather related disasters.  We are so grateful to her because she had every right to charge us for the room with our late stab at a cancellation. Whew!!

My husband felt terrible about missing yet another clergy event this new year with our new bishop.  However, he and the bishop talked together on the phone once we made our decision and the man is nothing but kindness itself.  He has lived in our area of the prairies for several years and knows exactly what we are up against.  Bless him!  Between his call and an encouraging call from a dear friend at the Moose Jaw church, my husband was smiling broadly instead of being depressed about missing out on seeing his fellow clergy friends in Regina.  Whew again!!

So, after bucking huge drifts on our town streets in order to do some errands and having a wonderful Chinese buffet lunch together, I am free to do housework I was dreading having to leave for the extra days to go away and my husband is delighted he now can work here at the home office catching up on some administration and ministry.  Yes, as usual it has all worked out and I feel silly for being frustrated last night over having to miss something important to my husband's job, as well as the weather related indecision about what we should do about this trip.

It isn't fun to be stuck here in the blizzard again, but on the other hand spring WILL come eventually. Then we will be able to make as many trips out to as many cities as we want on days off.  At the rate winter is not leaving us, summer holidays will be upon us before we are even ready to plan them and we can be away as much as we like for several weeks.  We are learning a LOT about being patient when storm stayed and we are learning what we have to do to avoid major flooding when the snow eventually melts.  

Everything in life is a learning experience.....what I personally am learning this winter is that I need to chill out!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

AAAAAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!!

So, at noon tomorrow we are supposed to be embarking on yet another road trip to Regina for a mandatory clergy day the following day.....the annual Blessing of the Oils.

So, of course, forgetting how difficult it is to obtain hotel accommodations in Regina we missed booking our favourite place, but we did find another average sort of spot with a room available.  We booked it a couple of weeks ago.  

So, of course as of dinner time this evening we are now under a severe storm watch that would sweep through here in the early morning hours and then follow us to Regina, arriving there the next morning.......the morning of the day we have to leave immediately for home after the last meeting.

So, of course now there is a huge possibility that once AGAIN a winter storm is either going to cancel our trip, or at least sabotage the drive one way or the other or both ways.

So, of course, by the time the public warnings were issued it was too late to cancel our hotel room, which was refundable until a half hour before the storm warning was posted and if we don't make it we will still have to pay for the room.  Of course, of course...... Although, of course, I would prefer to pay for a room that I don't stay at than risk our lives driving through yet another blizzard.

"Of course":  the short phrase that sums up our winter driving experience here on the prairies over the past few months.  As in: "of course we can't go because the roads are icy."  Or: "of course we have to navigate through 3 foot drifts in a tiny, ancient Toyota. Doesn't everybody??"  Or: "of course we are going to miss yet another mandatory clergy meeting and be the only people who aren't able to get there from out here in the boonies!"  

Of course...............

But the Day Ended Very Well

Yesterday was one of those odd days where nothing seemed to go along smoothly, but it ended on a very happy note....or, in this case, many happy notes.

We drove out to a different town last night with a couple of friends.  One of the friends was leading us in an ecumenical Taize music and meditation service at the Catholic Church.  I had been asked to be participate in leading some of the singing and I was nervous.  My voice is a ruin after several years now of not being used for any kind of serious singing, but that is the joy of Taize music:  each song is only a few lines long, rather repetitious and so easy to memorize the lyrics and melodies.

The highway had been completely cleared of snow and other than a crossing deer running out in front of us as we drove though a valley we had no other close calls along the route.  We arrived at the church to discover that the organizer of the meeting, who had been completely snowed in at his home in the country, had been able to get a local grader to come out to plough a path between his place and town.  By the time the service started we had 23 people there........that may not sound like many people to come to a church service, but the town is incredibly tiny, the snow drifts in town are deep and it was bitterly cold.   We were all delighted with the turnout.  People around here are so fed up with winter that their motivation to drive out anywhere, particularly in the evenings, has been pretty well used up.

Due to weather problems last week there had been no chance to rehearse the service, not a situation calculated to reduce stress.  However the other singer arrived right on time and 3 of us got to work to make sure we knew all the songs slated to be sung.  The pianist, our driver for the evening, has prepared many Taize services over the past few years, the other singer is a young mom with a beautiful soprano voice that I could listen to all evening and I was able to lead only the songs in the lowest registers, happy to simply toss in some harmonies to some of the others.  The congregation, none of who had ever attended or participated in a Taize service before, caught onto the songs very quickly.  Taize congregations have no lyric sheets.  They simply have to listen to the song leader sing the song once through, then the other leader brings the congregation to sing along.  The songs are sung over several times in a row to lead people into a time of prayer or meditation between songs. The introduction was a sleekly delivered few sentences with no time wasted on superfluous comments, the readers of the Scriptures and meditation were flawless and we found close to 50 candles available to be lit for meditative lighting.  Our leader, understanding that newcomers to Taize might not appreciate a full service, which combines the songs and readings with longer periods of silent prayer, kept the entire service to 45 minutes.  Even I could handle that, easily distracted as I can be with long silences.  

The response was so positive from the congregation.  What an unexpected treat to have their positive comments.  Prairie people do not gush so you have to become adept at reading into comments and particularly into no comments.  

It seems most everyone in attendance had a bit of a tough day yesterday for one reason or another and we spent a long time just visiting together over snacks afterward.    We all felt blessed by the service and by the quiet, gentle ending to what had been quite a stressful day.

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Confusing Day

The day started well.  We rejoiced early this morning at the arrival back of our flickers.  After spending most of this winter with few birds around larger than house sparrows and blue jays, the thick bodied flickers look gigantic!  The male was less than impressed with the arrangement we currently  have for the suet feeder.  It is too small and too mobile to accommodate his girth and length.  Note to husband:  change the suet feeder as soon as you are prepared to plough on foot through the back yard snow drifts.  The flickers obviously know that 2 days from now SPRING is supposed to be arriving.  Apparently they know something this week's weather forecast has not yet figured out!  They were also a tad surprised when they tried to land on the deck railing and discovered that the snow on the deck is now higher than the railings.  Poor birdies!!  I doubt they were any more impressed by this morning's temperature of -27C than I was!

From there the day began a slow slide downward: The man whose house we are supposed to be driving 50 km out of town to get to for dinner tonight called to say he is completely snowed in.  No grader has come down his road and his yard is totally blown over. He can barely find his car under the snow.  So no dinner out.

After dinner we were supposed to be accompanying him to his local church, about 3km from his house in order to assist with an ecumenical Taize music and worship service.  The main highway to the town where the church is will likely be passable for us now, but he is going to plough through mostly waist deep snow to walk to the church.  The service is at 6pm. He is leaving home at 3pm in order to get there on time.  Now there is fog starting to descend upon us.  Fog arriving before noon instead of dissipating before noon.  We don't want to be going out there in the fog.  If our friend leaves home at 3pm we may not be able to reach him to say we are not coming.  What to do.  We are not the chief leaders of this service and we can't reach the chief leader at her place of work today to ask her what we should do.  She also has to drive out there. So we get to spend the rest of the day wondering what is best to do. Time for some serious prayers for wisdom and guidance for us all......


I had a fine hair appointment mid-morning but had to make 4 runs at getting the car down the alley to the street before I was able to crash through the newest drift without high centering myself in order to get to the stylist's. By the time I returned home after errands, which included driving around several extra blocks and some strategic planning to be able to get around the town snowploughs and the deep ridges of ploughed snow gracing the centre of every downtown street, thereby making it impossible to turn into most of the store parking lots or angle parking spaces no matter what direction I was coming from, my husband had taken a shovel and dug out a long wide path from our garage all the way down the alley to the street.  Now he is exhausted and wondering how to best cope with the indecision of the remains of the day.

When we opened the mail a few minutes ago we discovered, to our dismay, that our online booking of our hotel room resulted in the charge being pre-billed to our credit card and we will have to pay for the room 3 weeks before we even stay there. "Oh, we're sorry," cooed the hotel management when I called to enquire, "but all our online bookings are now no-cancellation bookings and are paid in advance."  There was nothing to indicate this on the website.  That was never the policy.  The policy has changed, the website has not but tough for us.  We are, after all, only the clients.  We are booked in because that is the weekend of our Diocesan Synod so short of a desperate illness or other emergency there is little likelihood we will not be showing up to take advantage of our now paid for hotel, but I feel ripped off anyway.  We have subsequently gone back to the website and there is no indication that booking this way is an automatic non-cancellation policy. Do I really feel like taking on a large hotel chain to fight and argue over this?  Nope, I will simply pay it in advance when my credit card bill arrives and pray we can use the room.  Sigh.......

The best part of all these little frustrations is that my husband and I are remaining cheery.  For a day off this one is the pits, but somehow we seem to be okay with these interruptions in our plans and the little inconveniences that are building up as the day progresses.  We are 2 tired people so we are grateful that things are worse than they are, that the inconveniences, while stressful, are not really ruining our day nor our attitudes.

It is called the daily grace of God. 

I know my husband is experiencing it because he just found out the trip he had been planning with good friends for later this spring has had to have the date changed for several reasons, so guess who is the only person now unable to go on his trip...........yup, HIM! And amazingly he is okay with it. 

So, say it with me now:  
The daily grace of God...the daily grace of God...the daily grace of God...the daily grace of God.....aaah, that feels good!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

From the Sublime to the Ridiculous

We should have known this morning when we couldn't get the garage door open due to ice and snow buildup outside it that we weren't going to make it to the other town 120 km away for our first church service of the day.  But do we ever learn?  Nope, not us.  

You can't accuse my husband of being a wimpy, wussy priest who is afraid of a little winter weather.  No matter how bad things look in the town where we actually live, he will be out there very early of a Sunday morning attempting to buck the giant drifts, keep the car on the highway as he slithers on the ice and make sure the car's fog lights are on as he peers through the whiteout conditions trying to see the edge of the road. He doesn't cancel out on a service he is in charge of unless conditions are dire.   Nope, not him.

We did get the garage door peeled open and shoveled enough snow away from the edge of the building to make it out into the alleyway and out to the street, snow flying behind like the wake behind a water skier.  Once out on the main street we had trouble driving through the drifts for the 4 blocks required travel to get out to the highway.  

Once out on the highway we started to relax as there were large bare icy spots where the road surface was completely visible under the ice, but the big slanted bars of drifts zig zagging across in between the bare spots were high enough to drag the car around on the road.  We didn't get far before we realized that if the drifts were that bad on the north/south portion of the road for the first half of our journey then the wind would be blowing them even higher on the east/west portion of the road for the second half of the trip.  There was no sign of the ploughs having been out and we have discovered this winter that the secondary roads we have to drive on to get to our other church have been taken off the priority one list for snow removal.

Still, we had to take a minute to decide the best course of action.  Perhaps we could try going a bit further and see what would happen, at what point we would likely be forced to turn back.  By then we could end up with snow packed around the motor and fan again, like the last time we had to turn back.  By then we would lose even more time in calling the church wardens, whose responsibility is to put a service together in the absence of the priest.  As it was the dear woman Dell called this morning had only an hour to come up with a game plan before church was to start.  Our curate lives as far away from that church as we do and has to travel on the same roads part of the way there, so he will also not be there to take the service.

The other consideration that has to be added into the thought process, whereby a conclusion must be drawn as to the wisdom of continuing on versus turning around to go back, is that even if we do make it to Church #1, what are the chances we will be able to return home to do the service for Church #2?  Our wardens for Church #2 are currently both out of town and there isn't anyone else available here to do a lot at the last minute.  We can't expect our dear, mostly senior, congregation to plough their cars through the drifted streets in town only to discover the church doors locked, with no explanation, requiring them to then wade back through a fresh 10 cm of snow to their cars and skid back home on the ice so few minutes after leaving home.

We are both very grateful that we have had to only cancel out of 2 church services this winter despite the terrible weather and roads.  What we didn't expect was that one of those cancellations would be in mid March!!

AND, this is NOT a spring storm.  It is a vicious winter storm.  It is -14C with a windchill of -27C.  We left home one hour ago to make our attempt at travelling.  The snow has not ceased to fall during that time.  Right now it is coming down so thickly I can barely see the houses across the street from my own front door.  Now I read in the forecast that we may have up to 25 cm before this weather system passes on.  This afternoon the wind is to start blowing.  The prediction is that the winds will only reach a speed of 30km.  Well, with this much fresh snow that is all the speed required to close every highway in the area due to drifting snow and whiteouts.  

I have spent probably far too much time blogging about our weather, but I admit I find it fascinating.  It is something human beings can't control short term (longer term conditions like global warming etc. aside).  The weather does what it is going to do and it is up to us to cope with it.

I find God to be somewhat like the weather.......but, unlike the weather, he provides the tools and the concern and the strength to bear what comes my way, much of which is, also like the weather, unexpected and initially frightening.  I am so grateful for God!  I don't have to tough life out on my own.  I have him with me at all times.  It is okay to cry with God.  It is okay to admit I am frightened or that I don't understand how he could let certain things happen to me.  Like the weather he often offers me no specific explanation.  Life is life.  Crap happens. As his child I am special, yet not special as far as not being removed from all human suffering.  He delivers me from some trials but allows me to suffer through others just like anyone else. God helps me learn good spiritual lessons in the midst of it all.  He helps me to live with and cope with unexplainable tragedies and to enjoy every good thing that comes my way.  Never being alone is the greatest feeling of all. I can confess my every weakness to him and let his strength get me through the horrible times.  I can rejoice with him when the great events of life occur, some of them just as unexpected as the worse things. 

God is always there, as the old hymn tells me, "a shelter in the time of storm".

Saturday, March 16, 2013

O Come Ooooooooonnnnnn.....Puleeeeeeeze.......

So, the official first day of spring is next Wednesday, March 20.  This morning the temperature is -24C.  

What's wrong with this picture??

Friday, March 15, 2013

Shovelling Exhaustion

I am so very tired, happy, but tired.  This morning we woke up to over 10 cm of snow, much of it having blown into the highest drifts ever this season across our sidewalk in front of the house.  Someone had walked to work past our place earlier in the morning and it was obvious the snow had gone right over the top of her boots somewhere in the area of her knees, it was so deep.  But the drifts were even higher on the long walk leading up to our house.  

My husband and I got ready to go out, armed with a shovel and a broom each.  It took us well over an hour, even with both of us working, to get through the drifts and clear a sufficient path for pedestrians to traverse.  We came in and stood around in the front entryway of the house when we were finished, too exhausted to even remove our boots and coats for a few minutes.  We just stood there panting and letting our ears thaw.  It took me awhile to get my breath back and for my husband to regain colour in his face. Guess in our dread of having to shovel so much snow all at once we went at things just a bit too quickly.  

He subsequently survived a day's work and I had an excellent lesson time with my student.  

After English lessons it was time to rush some letters to the mail for the final sorting of the day at the post office.  I raced out to the garage, raised the garage door and was met with a sea of deep white snow across the pull out area and right across the alley where I have to exit to the street.  O no......I spent another half hour shovelling the tops off the giant drifts and then had to over steer the car through the remaining snow to get to the street, narrowly avoiding 2 of the neighbours' fences as I slithered down the alley.  

Our car has a certain point of speed to watch for:  too slow and the car high centres on the drifts; too fast and the snow sucks up under the car and packs in around the fan and the motor and shuts down the car completely. I was rather proud of myself for doing neither today.  Downtown and back quite safely and even managed to get the car back into the garage afterward without getting stuck.

Of course, later this afternoon the wind came up again and there are more drifts across the front sidewalks.  They are only a few inches deep this time, but I am heading out to shovel them anyway. When the wind blows again tonight there will be that many fewer centimeters of snow to shovel out tomorrow.

Better go and do it right now before I give in to those feelings of complete exhaustion and demotivate myself.

I am getting to old to enjoy the prairie winter experience......yup, just too darned old. 

Swiffer, O My Swiffer........

As I get older the idealism of youth that had me actively protesting big corporations for manufacturing napalm for use in the Vietnam war has given way to the reality that there are times when I need products manufactured by corporations to make my life bearable.

One of my latest discoveries is the line of Proctor and Gamble's Swiffer products.  I admit it. I apologize fellow idealists, but I am using Swiffer products to clean my house. Yes the ones made from plastic parts that have throwaway paper sheets.  They have been a tremendous help.  The wet mop, sweeper and the long handled duster have revolutionized my attitude about housework as it has become more painful to accomplish over the past 5 years.

My sore knees no longer have to bear my weight while I am washing floors, I am not chasing tiny food particles around the kitchen that the whisk broom doesn't pick up easily and having to bend over or squat down to pick them up on the end of my thumb, the former bending and twisting and crawling up on an unstable step stool are nearly nonexistent with the long handled duster with the extendable and bendable arm.

I also admit that I began using these products based on television advertising.  This is only the third time in my life that I have purchased something based solely on media endorsements.

Confession is good for the soul and Swiffer products are good for my health when I clean house.

My idealism is suffering mightily but my arthritis, osteoporosis, acid reflux, hip and ankle injuries all thank you Proctor and Gamble for this incredibly helpful line of cleaning assistance products.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Culinary Fun

My husband took it into his head late yesterday afternoon that he should prepare a wonderful Indian meal for us for dinner.  18 hours later our house still smells like an Indian restaurant........YUMMY!  He prepared chicken korma, boiled carrot and cabbage with coriander and served cold, basmati rice,  sambhar and chick peas in chole gravy. It was scrumptious and very filling.  Breakfast today was rather light!  

There are sufficient leftovers of the Indian dinner to eat this evening and since we were not terribly hungry even by lunchtime today, we ate vegetable subs.  Mmmm.......spinach, black olives, tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers, purple onion, cheddar cheese all tossed in a light Italian dressing and stuffed into some cheese bread.  

We have been eating like royalty lately.....mostly because I have fought a cold all week and Dell loves to take over the cooking when I am not feeling on top of things.  How lovely to have enough leftovers that he won't have to take time away from work at dinner to cook again...and I won't have to rouse my bit of remaining creativity to come up with something as delicious as what he has been preparing for me all week.

Now the only decision he has to make is if he heads to our church in the other town tonight after Bible study in hopes of arriving ahead of tomorrow's predicted snow, or whether to risk going in the morning.  It is his turn to provide the music and be the speaker for the weekly Lenten luncheon and service so it isn't a good day for him to have to cancel attending.

The roads around here are still very bad for ice and drifting and will be worse once again after tomorrow's and the next day's predicted snow.  Pretty certain the forecast is correct on that.......so far predictions of snow are the ones that have been right every time. Sigh.......SPRING.....where art thou??  

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Dad and Mom...the Ongoing Saga

Last Friday my father paid for a private MRI and thank goodness he did!  All ready yesterday his doctor had the results in his office and contacted dad to come and see him immediately.  It was quite a production for mom to manage to wheel dad down the ridiculously steep wheelchair ramp at their condo but between her and the taxi driver they did make it.  The taxi driver helped Dad get in and out of the chair and in and out of the clinic and got the chair folded up into the taxi trunk without a single complaint, so I pray that man gets a special blessing for his helpfulness.  Hopefully mom was able to tip him well.  

By the time dad had his results interpreted, the doctor gave him a copy along with a letter from the doctor and bundled dad and mom into another taxi for a trip to a major hospital in the city.  Short version is that dad was admitted and is in the care of a wonderful doctor (at least for now).  He will be seeing a spinal specialist from the back clinic in that hospital, but for now pain control is paramount.  Dad is finally in the hospital he should have been in last December when the problem first arose and he is now in the hands of the specialists he needs for a long term stay....at least that is our hope.  The problem began, according to the MRI with a serious lower spinal fracture that hospitalized him before Christmas and about the time it was healing well enough for him to cope with using his walker and being at home, another, likely spontaneous fracture occurred that he was unaware of at first.  Ah, the joys of severe osteoporosis......the joys I have to look forward to myself in a decade or two unless the Lord is particularly merciful to me for some undeserved reason.

When we visited dad at home a couple of weeks ago he was going for long walks around the hallways in the condo where he lives, eating all his meals at the table, using the washroom unaided.  Within a few days after our departure the excruciating pain began again and by last week he was unable to leave his bed for the most part.  Mom had been tossed into the role of full time care giver and at her age it was becoming too much to handle.  

My mother is realizing that it is quite possible Dad will not be living again at their home, at least not for a very long time and so she is preparing to live her own life now that she is not trapped in the condo.  It was at the point where if she left for more than a few minutes, she had to get a neighbour to come and sit with Dad to keep him safe.  Now she can relax because Dad is getting proper care.  She has decided to take the bus up twice a week to visit and is taking him the cell phone so they can be in touch on a daily basis.  She has all ready made plans to take the bus to the bank and grocery store today, has planned her main meals from the meals I put into their freezer last visit and is going to a birthday party for a friend in a couple of days.  Now that winter is on the way out she is able to get around on her own again.  Until next winter rolls around she should be okay living where she is.

I am so relieved for both of them today....realizing that by tomorrow some fresh disaster may crop up, but I am going to join them in living moment to moment when it comes to their situation.  Dad is in a good hospital with much better care than last time, mom will get a chance to rest and live her own life to some extent.  We will go to see them both as soon as the Easter Sunday madness is over and this whole Holy Season of Lent/Easter busyness winds down.  My husband gets 5 mandatory days off after Easter Sunday and this year he is taking them as soon as Easter Sunday services end.  We will see my parents, help mom out with some things, and maybe take a day or 2 just for ourselves.  April will still be quite a busy month, but less so than right now.

Mom ate her breakfast yesterday before taking Dad to the doctor but by the time all the medical needs were met and she was able to get home to call me it was after 8:30pm and she hadn't eaten any lunch or dinner.  I pray she slept in today and that she can relax a bit and eat properly, knowing Dad is in good hands now.

If Dad had not been able to come up with the money for the private MRI he would still be waiting for one in August in the public health care system....a real testament to how the Alberta government is destroying the provincial health care there.  He would be laying bedridden and in pain for another 6 months with no idea of what the cause was or what to do about it.  

I love pets and animals in general but we treat them better than we do our senior citizens.  If Dad was a Labrador Retriever he would have had better care than he has been getting. And that makes ME ill!